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Traveling historical panels to be unveiled

School district celebrates history

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published March 16, 2016

 The permanent and replica traveling panels contain 10-15 historical photos and text about the schools in the West Bloomfield School District.

The permanent and replica traveling panels contain 10-15 historical photos and text about the schools in the West Bloomfield School District.

Photo provided by Christy Forhan

WEST BLOOMFIELD — A piece of the West Bloomfield School District’s past will be unveiled during a historical celebration at the West Bloomfield Township Public Library at 7 p.m. March 30. 

Our School History is an ongoing project of the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society, formerly known as Call of the Peal of the Bell. In 2011, the West Bloomfield Board of Education voted to honor former Principal Kathy Sheiko by changing the name of Green Elementary to Sheiko Elementary; however, community members and the Historical Society questioned what would happen to the Green legacy, according to Christy Forhan, chair of the project’s second phase. While the board ultimately decided to change the name of the school, board members requested that the Historical Society gather historical information on the district. 

The end goal was to use the information acquired to create permanent panels — one per school, including Ealy Elementary and the district’s administration building, which is the old Scotch Elementary — to be placed in each school. After four years of rummaging through archives, old yearbooks and photographs, volunteers are putting the final touches on the panels, which are expected to be installed in the schools in April. 

Traveling replica panels were also created and will be on display at the library starting March 30.

“It’s exciting to see (Forhan) lead this project forward, and we’re all looking forward to the unveiling of the travel exhibit panels at the March 30 event,” Historical Society President Gina Gregory said.

The panels contain 10-15 photos that speak to the history of the respective building and text to amplify the story, Forhan said. The replica panels are expected to be on display at the library through April, and then Forhan hopes they will travel around the community. 

“We do not feel like a historic community. We don’t have that Northville downtown or that cluster of historic buildings that everybody is proud of, so I think it’s easy for us to forget that anything existed before Orchard Lake Road,” Forhan said. “Hopefully, this will give people an appreciation for the history here.”

Forhan said they are always looking for more stories, photographs and artifacts to continue to build the Historical Society’s archives, and she hopes these panels will inspire residents to search their homes for items to add to the Historical Society’s collection. 

“I want to thank the Historical Society and Christy Forhan for their efforts in preserving the valuable history of the schools in (the) West Bloomfield School District. It is important to recognize the legacy of the early settlers and educators who built the foundation of this district,” West Bloomfield Superintendent Gerald Hill said in an emailed statement.

Clara Bohrer, director of the library, said that the library has been a long-standing partner with the Historical Society.

“This (exhibit), to me, is particularly interesting because I think oftentimes people may not know the history of the individual schools,” Bohrer said. “I think everyone is going to be interested on reading up on the various schools.”

Bohrer said she hopes that in the future, the panels can be translated into Japanese and sent to the West Bloomfield Township Public Library’s sister library in Awaji City, Japan.

Following the unveiling of the traveling panels, there will be a short discussion about the panels and the history of the school district. Light refreshments will be provided. The West Bloomfield Township Public Library is located at 4600 Walnut Lake Road in West Bloomfield. For more information, visit www.gwbhs.org.